November 1, 2014

Create your own solo: Part 1

Today is the start of a series I’m going to write covering artistic intent, how we convey our ideas and emotions through movement, the language of movement and where we get our ideas and movement from. It’s a big topic so I might not write on it every week but today we’re going to start work on creating your own solo.


In creative class
I teach various exercises and give tasks to get students thinking about how to create movement. One of the tasks that has a powerful effect for creating movement goes as follows. I ask students to listen to a piece of music and imagine themselves moving in response. This usually requires a moment of stillness until they “see” themselves moving in their mind. They might be inspired by the sound of a drum or a melody line or how the dynamics change or perhaps whether the harmony is “sad” or “happy”. Then, when the right time comes, whatever images and movements of themselves came to mind, they then attempt to recreate those movements with their own bodies.


It’s a fun activity requiring you to jump between different types of thinking, going from internal visualisation, to external, physical creation of that internal vision. (Don’t forget, if you want to look at visualisation in more detail, do check out my previous article “Do You Visualise?!”).


Once the students have attempted to dance what they’ve visualised, we discuss how well the sequence of movements work for them… And we soon realise that some movements don’t flow well in our bodies and whatever images we had created in our mind, we still need to rearrange them in order to fit both our bodies and match our internal ideas. It’s a refinement process that can take some time!


Today’s Task
Make sure you have space to move around safely or do it sitting on a chair and always consider your environment when practicing dance… knocking over your priceless Ming isn’t fun!


So here we go.

  1. Listen to a piece of music that you feel drawn toward on some level (it could be the Chopin from this talk at 13min 10sec).
  2. Next, imagine yourself moving in response to some element of that music (it could be the dynamics, a particular phrase, the rhythm, a particular instrument or sound, or something else you feel about the music).
  3. Take some time with this and enjoy the freedom of your internal thinking.
    When you feel ready, begin to recreate with your body the shapes and movements you’ve created in your mind.

How did you do? Did you get close to what was in your mind?

If you’re like most people you’ll need to repeat this process a few times to see if you can get your physical movements closer to the internal ideas you have.


Once you have a clear idea of your movements, see if you can start to memorise through repetition some of those movements and next week we’ll start to look at organising those movements into something that flows.


When you’ve gone through this process a few times tell me what music you chose, what parts of it did you respond to? The rhythm? The emotion in the music? A particular instrument or sound? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

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